The Church of Scientology is pushing for "religious arbitration" in a legal battle against four women who claim they were stalked and harassed after they went to police accusing actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault.
Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Marie Riales and two other women who remain nameless, filed their lawsuit back in August claiming invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and stalking. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the latest development in the case is the Church of Scientology arguing that the women agreed to ecclesiastical justice procedures when they first made their commitment to the church, and therefore cannot make such claims against the church — regardless if they severed ties with the religious group or not.
A motion to compel religious arbitration reads, "Under the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the United States and California Constitutions the Church may establish its own rules governing its relationship with its members exempt from civil law. The Church's ecclesiastical arbitration is a condition of participating in Scientology services. This Court may not interfere with this condition by imposing civil rules for arbitration. The Church's arbitration agreement, as written and agreed to, must be enforced."0comments
According to court papers, each woman has an agreement with the church that states, "My freely given consent to be bound exclusively by the discipline, faith, internal organization, and ecclesiastical rule, custom, and law of the Scientology religion in all matters relating to Scientology Religious Services, in all my dealings of any nature with the Church, and in all my dealings of any nature with any other Scientology church or organization which espouses, presents, propagates or practices the Scientology religion means that I am forever abandoning, surrendering, waiving, and relinquishing my right to sue, or otherwise seek legal recourse with respect to any dispute, claim or controversy against the Church, all other Scientology churches, all other organizations which espouse, present, propagate or practice the Scientology religion, and all persons employed by any such entity both in their personal and any official or representation capacities, regardless of the nature of the dispute, claim or controversy."
After Masterson learned of the lawsuit, The Ranch star spoke with THR, calling it "beyond ridiculous" and that the "public will finally be able [to] learn the truth," adding that he sued his ex-girlfriend and others who he claims have aided in harming his reputation. The four women's lawsuit is also against the Church of Scientology, as well as its leader David Miscavige, and claims that the church actively tried to cover up the assaults.